Thursday, July 17, 2014

Writing in a "Dead" Genre

I stalk the New Leaf Literary Tumblr page, particularly their Q&A's. They're extremely interesting, and as an aspiring writer who will one day be asking those same questions, extremely enlightening. A few days ago somebody asked about writing in a "dead" genre, and it got me thinking (read the question and answer here).

Now, this post isn't about Townsend's answer. In all honesty, I loved her answer and it's part of what inspired this post. This post is my own thoughts, and to get there I'm going to tell you a story:

I've always been an avid reader. In the fourth grade, my teacher didn't know what to do because I read everything in our class "library" (about four shelves) in a matter of two months (maybe three or four; that time in my life is hazy). My favorite books from the fifth grade through seventh were Nancy Drew, and thus began my love for mysteries.

In middle school, I began writing. I wrote mysteries. Personally, they were horrible mysteries and I think I've conveniently misplaced all of them, but I wrote them. Why? Because that's the genre I loved to read. However, it didn't take me long to realize that mysteries weren't my thing; on the other hand, I loved the writing part.

So I kept reading, expanding the genres that I picked up at the bookstore largely because all of the mysteries began sounding the same. I picked up a few fantasy (Tamora Pierce and Christopher Paolini) and began getting an idea for a fantasy. So I started writing some fantasy and came to the same conclusion as I did for mystery: it wasn't for me.

Yet I kept writing. I eventually began watching the X-Men movies with my dad and, having always been fascinated by the concept, began planning and writing what would become the first full novel I ever wrote: Kinetic (which I finished my senior year of high school).

Now, I write sci-fi novels set in futuristic worlds. I read a lot of science-fiction and dystopian books not only to gain inspiration but also because they're enjoyable. However, dystopian's considered a totally dead genre, and science fiction is next.

Here's my point: just because a genre is dead, doesn't mean I'm going to stop writing it, and neither should you.

Writing for the market is probably one of the most unhealthiest things I could think of. It involves dropping whatever you're doing on your current novel and starting anew, simply because your old novel isn't "hot" anymore. But before you're even ready to query that new novel, there's going to be another trend. These novels that you jump to write? Probably don't have your soul written into them. The key to good writing? It has to have a piece of you in it; you have to be as invested in the novel as you want readers to be.

I have a really roundabout way of making points and explaining things, and it involves a lot of babbling (see..everything I just wrote), but it's basically: if you keep chasing the market, you're never going to catch up. Instead, write what you love, what you're passionate about. Odds are, there's something that only you can bring to that genre, and even if you query it in its afterlife, there's always a shot of it getting picked up.

If it doesn't? Find something else to write that you're passionate about. Revise and edit the old while you create something new. If you really care about it, keep querying. It might get tiring, sure, but the answer to writing in a "dead" genre has never been to drop it and pick up writing whatever's selling at the time. That's the ultimate recipe for disaster.


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